‘Inside 360’: Behind the Scenes of the Mars One Mission

Amersfoort, 27th May 2015 – Mars One is proud to introduce Inside 360; a series of in-depth articles that present an inside look into the details and feasibility of the Mars One mission. The first article can be found on Mars Exchange. Subsequent articles will be added periodically.

Mars One has taken the first crucial steps in the process of establishing the first human settlement on Mars. In order to address the questions and concerns that have been raised, Inside 360 will foremost provide an in-depth explanation of the individual phases of the mission. Mars One is continuously improving their mission plans based on advice from advisers and suppliers, and Inside 360 will offer the rationale behind decisions made. The ongoing series will additionally feature interviews with Mars One team members and external experts about the different aspects of the mission.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to enlarge.

“Mars One is still in the early stages of organizing this human mission to Mars,” said Bas Lansdorp, co-founder and CEO of Mars One. “We are looking forward to sharing our developments as well as the studies completed by our suppliers. This way, the aerospace community can share their feedback and we can implement suggestions that improve our mission design.”

Astronaut Selection: Inside 360 will describe the Mars One astronaut selection process and include an interview with Mars One’s Chief Medical Officer, Norbert Kraft, M.D., discussing the selection criteria. Dr. Kraft has researched crew composition for long duration space missions at NASA and has also worked for the Japanese Space Agency and collaborated with the Russian Space Agency. 

The second selection round has recently concluded with only 100 candidates remaining. Mars One’s first rounds focused on individual selection. These rounds included finding individuals who fulfilled all requirements, testing their learning ability, and their ability to retrieve and apply knowledge. There was also a strong focus on determining the likelihood of who would be a good team player. The Mars One’s selection will proceed with subsequent rounds that will focus on group selection. This means finding out who has what it takes to not only to learn how to survive on Mars but also to be able to work efficiently in a team.

“The recent carefully structured interviews quickly revealed who might have potential to be a good candidate and therefore have been very useful in narrowing down the pool of candidates,” says Dr. Norbert Kraft. “The subsequent rounds will consist of team and environmental challenges.”

Mission Feasibility: This series will discuss mission details and explain the reasoning behind the current mission design. This section will contain interviews with Mars One ambassadors and advisers including Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Dr. Gerard ‘t Hooft, former NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck, as well as other experts.

“The technical challenges are daunting,” says Mason Peck. “That has been true for each step into the cosmos we’ve taken — sending humans to orbit, exploring the moon and conducting science with robotic spacecraft at the outer planets and beyond. This problem and others like it simply need the attention of creative people committed to settling the solar system. Defeatism, cynicism and mindless conservatism didn’t get us to the moon.”

Necessary technology: Inside 360 will provide additional information about the selection for certain technology and engineering solutions. The engineering for this mission will be incredibly challenging and there can be no short-cuts or cutting corners. To be successful, Mars One must work with state of the art integrated systems and hardware that are optimized for the mission. However, there is a strong foundation of established science and engineering upon which Mars One can build on.

“Part of the confusion, and we accept responsibility for this,” said Lansdorp, “is our general assessment that no new technology needs to be developed to undertake the Mars One Mission. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines technology as, “the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area” or “a capability given by the practical application of knowledge”. The intention of our “no new technology” message is to convey the following to the general public: The knowledge exists – There are no fundamental physical processes or phenomena that need to be discovered; there is no requirement to develop exotic materials that do not currently exist; there is no need to develop completely new propulsion technologies to safely transport cargo and humans to Mars. Our message is that the fundamental physical, chemical, electrical, and biological processes and technologies required to undertake this mission are known. We have the ability to design and manufacture the engineered products now – we do not have to wait decades for another generation to develop them before we go.”

Budget Estimate: One of the primary challenges is raising sufficient investment funds to initiate the mission and complete the first human landings. The initial estimation for this mission is 6 billion U.S. dollars, this is the cost of all the hardware combined, plus the operational expenditures and margins. Inside 360 will explain how the budget was formed, as well as discuss why this budget is lower than other mission estimates, for example a return mission to Mars.

Mars One is in the process of refining this cost estimate based on data from the suppliers who are destined to work on the initial conceptual designs. “Our $6B estimate is in fact the initial estimate and from the preliminary data we are confident that the final price tag is within reasonable margins,” states Arno Wielders, Co-Founder & CTO of Mars One. “The primary driver of cost for this mission is the development of the final hardware to be used and the launch costs. We are therefore very excited about all the recent developments by private companies in the aerospace industry and NASA in lowering rocket transportation costs and testing techniques like supersonic retro-propulsion, which is needed to bring larger masses to the surface of Mars.”

Inside 360 will not only cover the topics outlined above but will be an ongoing and in-depth series about various aspects of the mission. This series will be available on https://community.mars-one.com/blog.

About Mars One
is a not-for-profit foundation that will establish permanent human life on Mars. Human settlement on Mars is possible today with existing technologies. Mars One’s mission plan integrates components that are well tested and readily available from industry leaders worldwide. The first footprint on Mars and lives of the crew thereon will captivate and inspire generations. It is this public interest that will help finance this human mission to Mars.

One Response

  1. This is a very rational process, given limited resources. The important aspect is elimination rather than selection. It’s only important that the best candidates are within the 100 and not among those removed.

    The budget of $6 billion is quite optimistic given “current technology,” which is what M1 has claimed it was using when first announced. With newer technology being developed, it may eventually be feasible.

    For example, you can now use 3D printing to make a complete jet engine. These sorts of ideas reduce costs. A functioning MPD engine for space would shorten the trip. Shorter trips mean less shielding and less food being carried along, also lowering costs. And so it goes.

    One thing that I have not seen from M1 or NASA is a protracted test of human health at 38% gravity. Instead of the current one-year test at zero-g, that would be much more useful. As is, it appears that the first such test will be live on Mars, and absolutely no one knows the results today or will in the next several years.

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